Legendary winemakers of South Tyrol

Friedrich Boscarolli, Sebastian Stocker and Hans Terzer – a portrait of three pioneers of the region’s wine miracle
The best South Tyrolean winemakers were always aware of the tremendous potential of South Tyrolean wine, and that good vintages and wines from excellent locations will keep to a ripe old age. The Vinum Hotel wine bulletin for August pays homage to Friedrich Boscarolli from Meran, Sebastian Stocker from Terlan and Hans Terzer from the Unterland – three exceptional South Tyrolean winemakers who were always one step ahead of their time.
Some 20 or 25 years a kind of “young wine” diktat prevailed in South Tyrol. Anyone keeping older vintages in their cellar was usually seen as a hopelessly bad salesperson. The wine merchants would impress upon restaurateurs and innkeepers that “South Tyrolean wine must be drunk young!”: their wine lists were thus arranged to that effect. Older vintages could only be found in specialist establishments. But the best South Tyrolean winemakers had naturally always known that good vintages and wines from excellent locations would keep to a ripe old age: depending upon the position and reputation of a winemaker in his winery, a small quantity of bottles could be hoarded and stored, either with the permission of the boss or in secret.

The best-known example of such a winemaker is Sebastian Stocker, who has for a long time been one of South Tyrol’s wine legends.

Each year Sebastian Stocker would hide numerous bottles in the deep cellar of the Terlan wine co-operative – all in secret, as the executive committee would have never approved such an action. To the great good fortune of his successors and of all lovers of South Tyrolean wine, Stocker was absolutely convinced of the potential longevity of his Terlan wines. Anyone who has had the opportunity to sip one of the oldest Stocker wines will cherish a very good ’56 and an outstanding ’59 Weissburgunder in the memory – after over 50 years of keeping!

Various senior figures on the Meran wine scene relate that, two generations beforehand, there was a local forerunner to Sebastian Stocker.
The winemaking pioneer Friedrich Boscarolli, the owner of Rametz Castle from 1866 until his death in 1908, laid in a stock of legendarily good Meraner Hügel and Blauburgunder wines. This innovative wine expert (who among other things introduced the wire frame for low-level training of the vines) kept many bottles of the best vintages in the deep castle cellar. The last good to excellent Blauburgunders are said have been perfectly drinkable into the 1960s.

The most important South Tyrolean winemaker of the last three decades is Hans Terzer from the Unterland, a man who is just as explosive as he is creative.

A summary of his working life:
  • born in 1956 in Entiklar/Kurtatsch
  • first cellar training in the famed Tiefenbrunner private winery (also in Entiklar)
  • moved to Laimburg where, not yet 20 years old, he is considered a star in the cellar
  • finally in 1977 he becomes head winemaker at the St. Michael-Eppan winery, where he hones both himself and the entire enterprise into brilliant form.
  • In the 1990s Terzer is elected as president of the South Tyrol Winemakers’ Association.
  • In the year 2000 the “Gambero Rosso” guide crowns the St. Michael winery as Italy’s best wine cellar.

But Hans Terzer is still for from achieving his goal. He and his like will always be on the move, offering new wine ideas and visionary concepts of marketing. Hans Terzer was the driving force behind the large-scale restructuring of the winegrowing areas of South Tyrol, where in recent years red varieties were uprooted and replaced by fashionable whites, offering the wine trade better sales prospects. And with “Appius”, his superb white wine cuvée (70% Chardonnay, the rest a blend of Weissburgunder and Sauvignon), this wine wizard has created a Grande Cuvée of international reputation. To quote Hans Terzer himself: “We want to take the very best from of our top locations and go head to head with the world’s best winegrowing areas! This white cuvée offers brilliant finesse, multiple layers of ripe fruit and a creamy flintiness”.
The Vinum Hotel wine bulletin for September:

The “mountain wines” – high quality from South Tyrol’s high-altitude vineyards!

The first pioneering winemaker in South Tyrol to believe in the great potential of high-altitude locations was Herbert Tiefenbrunner from Entiklar with his “Feldmarschall”: this is a Müller-Thurgau that thrives at an altitude of over 1,000 metres on the slopes of the Fennberg in the Unterland region. In the last few years, owing to climate change, the vineyards of South Tyrol have continuously migrated upwards to higher regions. The Vinum Hotel wine bulletin for September goes in search of South Tyrol’s “high” wines!